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Tyson v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 22, 2017

DARRYL TYSON, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Mary E. Chicchelly, Judge.

         Darryl Tyson appeals the district court's denial of his application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Philip B. Mears of Mears Law Office, Iowa City, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Judge.

         Darryl Tyson pled guilty to first-degree burglary, second-degree robbery, third-degree sexual abuse, and second-degree theft. The district court sentenced him to prison terms not exceeding twenty-five years, ten years, ten years, and five years respectively and ordered them to run consecutively, for a total of fifty years.

         Tyson filed an application for postconviction relief. He claimed his trial attorney was ineffective in failing "to advise [him] that the consecutive sentences were a possibility if he pled guilty" and was ineffective in investigating his case. The district court denied the application following an evidentiary hearing.

         On appeal, Tyson contends (1) his "guilty plea was constitutionally deficient" because he "did not understand that he was pleading to consecutive sentences totaling 50 years" and (2) "there was ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel in the presentation of this claim."

         I. Understanding of Consecutive Sentences

         Tyson asserts the district court "did not warn" him that his "sentences could be run consecutively" and "never asked" him if he understood the meaning of "consecutive." In his view, these omissions rendered his guilty plea unknowing and unintelligent.

         Tyson concedes he failed to file a motion in arrest of judgment challenging this aspect of his plea despite receiving correct advice on the consequences of failing to do so, but he asserts we may review the issue under an ineffective-assistance-of counsel rubric. We agree. To succeed, Tyson must establish (1) his trial "counsel's performance was deficient" and (2) prejudice resulted. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984).

         Tyson cannot establish deficient performance. During the plea proceeding, the prosecutor summarized the plea agreement, including the prison terms he faced on each charge. The prosecutor ended with the statement, "These sentences are to run consecutively and not concurrently, for a total indeterminate sentence of not to exceed 50 years." The district court reiterated the range of punishment for each charge and elicited a response from Tyson that he understood the range. See Iowa Code § 2.8(2)(b)(2) (2015) (requiring the court to inform a defendant of "[t]he mandatory minimum punishment, if any, and the maximum possible punishment provided by the statute defining the offense to which the plea is offered"). Although the court did not elaborate on the distinction between consecutive and concurrent sentencing, the meaning was clear: one could only reach fifty years if the sentences on the respective counts were run in succession.

         State v. White,587 N.W.2d 240, 243 (Iowa 1998), cited by Tyson, does not alter our conclusion. There, the defendant pled guilty without receiving any advice about consecutive sentences from "any . . . source, " including "the judge or defendant's lawyer." White, 587 N.W.2d at 241, 243. The supreme court reversed the plea after emphasizing that "[n]o information from any source indicated to the defendant in any way that his maximum possible punishment was twenty years of imprisonment as a result of sentences imposed to be served consecutively." Id. at 243. Tyson, in contrast, was informed that he faced up to fifty years in prison. See State v. Tiegen, No. 09-0465, 2009 WL 3380065, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 21, 2009) (distinguishing White on the ground "the written pleas of guilty show [the defendant] was aware that any terms of incarceration might be imposed to run consecutively, and that his claim his pleas were not knowing and voluntary is thus ...


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